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CBD Resilience Strategies Support Success in NZ's Capital City

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Wellington City Council working in partnership with First Retail Group to deliver town centre resilience strategies.

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CBD Resilience Strategies Support Success in NZ's Capital City

  1. 1. 29May 2014 | NZRetailNZRetail | May 201428 W ellington’s vibrant CBD has always been one of Australasia’s favourite destinations for shopping and dining. The inner city’s eclectic mix of independent stores and nationwide brands – coupled with a renowned coffee and food culture has become a magnet for locals and tourists. Despite this unique business environment, New Zealand’s capital has not been immune to economic challenges. Like many other cities, Wellington was seeing a contraction in spending and fewer downtown shoppers. The tide is turning with a new renaissance revitalising the ‘Golden Mile’ of shopping that anchors the CBD. Lambton Quay, Willis and Manners Streets are all seeing store renovations, new brands entering the market and improved footfall as the economy begins to regain ground. Wellington City Council has long recognised the part retail plays in the CBD. Over the past decade it has invested heavily in infrastructure to create an accessible, engaging and safe environment for shoppers. The Council’s depth at understanding for the sector is backed up with industry expertise and support from consultants First Retail Group Ltd. Recognising the need to drive commercial revival, the WCC has been a cornerstone supporter of stakeholder engagement platform Using social media, the site aggregates information specific to these markets – providing a highly relevant resource to manage communication and build community. Based on similar initiatives that First Retail delivers internationally, OurCBD has been customised for the Wellington market by web strategists Boost New Media. This local company is already active in the retail space through development of iBeacon technology for leading store groups. PARTICIPATION The new platform has attracted participation across all sectors of the retail and hospitality spectrum. David Byrne, well- known fashion retailer from Hurricane Clothing, owns three stores in Wellington’s central business district. “We look at conversations on a daily basis and contribute wherever possible,” says Byrne. “Recently, we’ve organised meet-up groups with other retailers to discuss issues and share how we can help Council address these.’’ “It’s great to have a network running with everyone working towards the same common goals,” says New World Metro owner Richard Taggart. “We’re privileged to be retailers in the most vibrant city in New Zealand, with this initiative being just another step in keeping it that way.” Lorraine Nicholson, First Retail’s OurCBD Programme Manager, is a 14-year veteran of Wellington’s downtown scene. Her view is that inner city retailing has changed significantly, with business owners being under retail support retail support 0800 200 245 Most businesses lose between 10 and 30% of their customers every year. Giving your customers a voice can significantly reduce the amount of business you may lose. Carlson Marketing To find out how we save companies millions of dollars in lost customers each year, give us a call. Customer Radar “Wellington’s lead provides the opportunity for Councils throughout Australasia to explore how they interact with retailers – and, indeed, any customer facing business.’’ Barry Hellberg / NZRA Above New World Metro owner Richard Taggart inside his busy city store. OurCBD – a new initiativeToday’s busy commercial environment means that retailers seldom have the time to meet others, develop networks and have a say in civic matters. Wellington City Council, in collaboration with member organisations − including the New Zealand Retailers Association − are supporting OurCBD to reconnect business and build community among inner city traders. Breakout Specialist consultancy First Retail Group works globally with retailers, property owners and Councils. The company provides strategy and systems to improve performance and manage risk for a wide range of clients. The OurCBD model was originally developed in response to UK town-centre client needs. It has now evolved into a comprehensive system that encourages collaborative thought, discussion and working between councils and inner-city businesses. “While the UK high street retail environment is far more challenging than Australasia, it does send a stark reminder of what could happen here if Councils don’t take decisive action to help,” says Chris Wilkinson, First Retail’s Managing Director. “Understanding the sector is vital, which is why this partnership between Wellington City and its stakeholders will go a long way to delivering much-needed resilience” According to Wilkinson, a website and social media platforms are only part of the solution. The company delivers comprehensive support to assist interaction and the shared development of strategy. This, he says, is fundamental to the ongoing success of the programme. Is this the way forward for other cities and town centres? The New Zealand Retailers Association’s Barry Hellberg thinks so. “Wellington’s lead provides opportunity for Councils throughout Australasia to explore how they interact with retailers – and indeed any customer facing business’’ greater pressure economically. She shares the need for community among stakeholders as a way to ensure confidence and resilience. According to Nicholson, bringing retail and hospitality together is seen as fundamental in reinforcing Wellington’s unique offer. “From our work here in New Zealand and offshore, we know how shopping and food are inextricably linked in success. Our goal is for the two sectors to have an even greater synergy from this initiative.” In Wellington’s busy Grey Street, Jewellery retailer Hanne Andersen sees OurCBD as a way to connect businesses – driving collegiality and support. “As small business owners we don’t always have the time to attend meetings or participate as much as we’d like to. The website summary and Facebook conversations mean we can catch up anytime with what’s trending – and that Council can feel the pulse of what’s happening on the street.” Early success of the initiative augers well for Wellington’s efforts to continue building its unique consumer offer. welcomes all retail and hospitality businesses within the Capital’s central business district to take part. By Kim Munro. Kim is a freelance writer based in Wellington.